“It’s about being present. Putting down your phone. Being with your friends and people you love. Seeing the sun go down and feeling the wind and having a party. Not just a 10-minute show. With all these people coming, I just wanted to give them a good time and to feel like a community – and honestly I think that was really here. So this is what State of Soul means.” This is how Marine Serre explained her show title and concept shortly after that show had ended. The sun was indeed setting, and hundreds of guests, almost a thousand in fact, who had scored public tickets for the show were streaming into a party area where dancing would continue long into the night. When fashion designers elect to hold late night shows on the edge of Paris it is often borne of a wearisome creative insecurity – they wish to make the audience suffer for their art in order to feel reassured they have clout. This was entirely different. Serre was trying to reshape the fashion show in sync with the values transmitted by her brand; inclusive, ethical, positive, human. The show acted as opening ceremony for this gathering of the Serre community, upcycling the concept from sporting jamborees like the Olympics. The models, both professional and amateur, included athletes, families, friends, and a smattering of celebrities including Jorja Smith and Lourdes Leon. The idea of this being in theory a menswear event seemed laughably irrelevant, merely the result of Serre’s canny decision to choose the balmiest fashion week of Paris’s calendar to try this experiment in. The models walked the 400 meter circuit around us in groups that reflected the phases of the collection. The swimwear, made from recycled fibers, had been on offer for a while, the designer said, but never before in a show. Patched denim looks featuring Serre’s crescent moon mark segued into a section of bodycon pieces crafted from shaved pink terry, which on a mother and daughter were worn against two Chanel-esque jackets. This made you wonder whether Serre had even knocked on the door of Paris’s couture fashion week, given the huge amount of handicraft here. That was perhaps most exemplified by the piped dresses made of upcycled towels in green and pink. The fit was so excellent that I wondered if the fabrics had been treated in some way to add stiffness. These were followed by patched dresses made from upcycled T-shirts and a series of witchily alluring silk looks, some featuring prints of the upcycled jewelry pieces that were also part of the collection. Shoes included Serre’s own sneakers and molded sole pumps. “I always try to break the boundary of what the system is wanting you to do. It was the same with the upcycling. Everyone was telling me it was not going to work. I said ‘OK, but let’s try.’ The thing is, if no-one is trying to change the rules then they will never change… In the industry we tend to forget that.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.